Braid Cover
Platform Xbox Live Arcade
Genre Rewinding Puzzle Platformer
MtAMinutes to Action 5
Score 9  Clock score of 9Gameplay: 9
Fun Factor: 9
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 4
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Braid is a time-manipulating 2D platformer for the Xbox Live Arcade. You control Tim, a young man trying to get the girl back that he lost... or is he? Either way, the game was independently made by Jonathon Blow and released last year to quite a bit of acclaim. Hailed for its extremely original platforming experience, Braid was the first game I bought for my Xbox 360 after I got it. This is the my experience at playing Braid's first hour for the first time.

February is First Hour's unofficial indy game month, and Braid is just the first of four straight independently made games featured.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - Braid starts out the moment the game loads up. You control your silhouetted sprite against a beautiful cityscape that looks like it's on fire. There's a violin playing a haunting song. I move right into the aura of a street lamp and my character appears. It's a short ugly guy with brownish red hair. I enter a house.

01 - The first room I enter is titled World 2... where's World 1? I check out the rest of the house, the light goes on in the bedroom when I enter it.

02 - Well, nowhere to go but the door to World 2. I'm now in a cloudy area with some books on stands. The stage is titled "Time and Forgiveness." As I walk by books they tell Tim's story.

Braid Tim House

03 - Weird... Tim's goal is to rescue the princess, simple it may sound but the other books reveal a lot more. Tim made a lot of mistakes with this woman, and he wants to be forgiven. "The Princess turned sharply away, her braid lashing at him with contempt." Guess that's how the game got its title.

04 - I enter the door on the right, with the number 3 above it. "Three Easy Pieces." Pieces of what?

05 - The violin returns, a little more cheery this time. There are three puzzle pieces in the upper left hand corner, well,empty spaces for the pieces to go. Tim can jump with the A button. He can also climb fences like Mario in Super Mario World.

Braid Goomba Jump

07 - I collect a puzzle piece above some smoldering spikes. The watercolor background looks amazing. Oh, it's a bad guy! Some fat round guy who looks like Tim's head. I jump on its head like the picture shows, Tim jumps even higher then.

08 - Then I vault off one of the baddies to collect a piece, and then two in a row to collect the third and final puzzle piece of the level. "The Cloud Bridge" is the next level. Four pieces in this level.

09 - Cannons are shooting out clouds that I have to ride on... oops, fell to my death to the firery spikes. No! Wait! I can hold X and rewind time! Wow! It's like a 2D Prince of Persia, though that's obviously been done, just not without the time manipulation.

Braid Solid Ground Level

11 - I've collected two pieces but I can't seem to get to the other two... The puzzle pieces I've collected so far are laid against the background, I can move them around if I want. Only five total so far. I move on to the next level, "Hunt."

13 - In that level I had to defeat six Tim heads. Typically an easy feat since they're essentially just Goombas, but to reach the final two, I had to jump off two Tim heads in a row, and one of them I had already killed, so I had to rewind the game until it was still alive! Cool. You can rewind back to the beginning of the level if you'd like. Holding X and hitting L trigger speeds up the rewind.

14 - The fourth level is "Leap of Faith." There's a puzzle piece right above the door, but I can't jump that high.

Braid Goomba Cannon

15 - Oh wow, I'm a genius. I had to catch a Tim head on a floating platform that I could control and bring it over to the puzzle piece. Awesome.

17 - Next I had to jump on a Tim head while we were both mid-air to launch myself over to another piece. Puzzly while requiring excellent timing (not to mention being able to rewind and try over and over).

18 - Wow, then I had to strategically fall down a long shaft while avoiding spikes to get the third piece. I collect the fourth easily and reach a castle. A dinosaur comes out and tells me my Princess is in another castle. And this was after jumping over what looked exactly like a piranha plant!

Braid Castle Dinosaur

20 - I'm back in my house now. I'm going to rearrange the puzzle pieces I collected on the wall.

21 - Thankfully they snap together when you get it right... but I'm obviously missing two. Guess I'll go and try to get them! The game allows me to jump right to that level.

22 - Oh, wow! The puzzle is between two ledges, but on the puzzle itself is another ledge that would allow me to jump between!

Braid Switch Platform Goomba

23 - All right, that's one down, one to go. Don't know how the puzzle would help me on this one though...

26 - Genius. Using the ledge in the puzzle, I allowed a Tim head to walk on it and then dropped the ledge out from under him to make him fall to the ground. Then I jumped off his head to reach the final puzzle piece. I put it all together, it's a man reaching for a glass of champagne or something, but the bottle is tipping over... weird. Achievements though!

27 - World 3 is available now, "Time and Mystery." Time to read more story.

Braid Storybook Level Select

28 - The game's writer has a broad vocabulary... not sure if I understood everything Time was philosophizing about. "The Pit" is the first stage. No piece here, more of a tutorial.

29 - I jumped down into a pit and grabbed a key, then rewound myself back up to the pit's edge, but I was still holding the key! The gameplay potential grows deeper.

30 - The second stage is "There and Back Again," like in The Hobbit. I have to climb to the top of a bunch of platforms and grab the key, and then open the door to the piece before a steel wall locks me out. But with my new knowledge of time, this is easy: grab the key, rewind while holding the key, and grab the piece before the wall even touches a hair on my head.

Braid Tim Pit Goomba

32 - "Phase" is the third stage of World 3 (hey, where was World 1 again??).

33 - The first piece seriously is twisting my mind. I had to jump on a bunch of clouds to reach the piece, but they were timed to make it seemingly impossible, until you rewind time and realize that only one set of the moving clouds is affected by Tim's mysterious power. Impressive.

36 - Pretty much the same task with the second and final piece of the stage, but just more difficult timing. The next level is called "The Ground Beneath Her Feet." Will we get to see the Princess?

Braid Chain Fence Tim Climb Goomba Key

38 - No princess, but more mysterious objects that aren't affected by Time. This time it's some moving platforms. Easier than clouds if you ask me. Next level is called "Tight Channels."

40 - A new enemy! Killer rabbits that lunge at you with their teeth! Above me are Tim heads getting fireballed by a cannon, this is a confusing level!

45 - All right, I gave up on that level! There were entire rabbit families burrowing out of the ground to attack me and fireballs lighting me up! Really difficult, I think I had to jump off a series of rabbits to reach the puzzle pieces... but I'm not really sure. Too hectic!

Braid Irreversible Key Doors

50 - Everything is getting a lot more complex. In this level which I believe was titled "Irreversible," I had to open a series of doors with limited number of keys, and sometimes the keys would be reusable after rewinding and sometimes not...

51 - I reach the puzzle and I only have six pieces! Kind of sad. "Lair" is the next level.

53 - Boss fight! A giant ugly brute was hanging out on the ground and when I approached, he woke up and starting shooting fireballs at me. I climbed to the ceiling and started dropping chandeliers on him. It takes five hits to kill him but I only had two chandeliers, so I had to keep rewinding time to rebuild the chandeliers to re-drop them on him. This game is insane.

Braid Shadow Tim Goomba

54 - Still another level in World 3! "Tingling."

57 - Got the first puzzle piece here, had to grab a key, jump strategically into space so that later when I pulled a switch for a platform to move under where I jumped before, I would land on it when I landed. My head hurts.

59 - Now that's amazing. There was a puzzle piece behind a steel wall that was stuck there when I got to it. To get the piece, I had to pull a switch to reveal a time resistant platform. Standing on that platform also makes me time resistant, so I rewound the level all the way back to the beginning, with me still on that platform. That allowed me enough time to get behind the steel wall which hadn't fallen yet.

60 - And that my friends, is the end of the third world and the first hour of Braid.

Time for some scores out of 10.

Braid Donkey Kong Tim Goomba

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 5

Gameplay: 9
At first Braid seems like a deceptively simple platformer, but I definitely like the time aspects it is introducing. Rewinding time isn't really anything totally new though, and I'm guessing it's even been done in a 2D game, though I can't think of one at the moment. I like the homages the game displays to previous games, especially Super Mario Bros. Though Braid doesn't really play like Mario, there's goombas, piranhas, and lots of jumping around. Collecting puzzle pieces is also a decent way to distract me from the straightforward levels.

Fun Factor: 9
Discovering the secrets of Braid's time travel and how to use them to collect puzzle pieces seems like the core of the game. And it's fun, very fun. I was impressed by the first world, but the second (I mean, third) world's trick was too cool. Having objects that aren't affected by Tim's time manipulation is brilliant... I have a feeling it gets better too.

Graphics and Sound: 9
While Braid isn't Yoshi's Island colorful, its backgrounds and foregrounds are highly detailed and feature some great palettes. It's also really cool how when you rewind the game, it remembers everything. This isn't so much the graphics, but it's neat seeing the animations run in reverse. I can't really remember any of the music during the levels, but the opening violin theme is amazing. I almost didn't want to enter the first level because I just wanted to listen to it.

Story: 4
Not sure what to make of Braid's story so far, seems like a generic save-the-princess story, taking off from Super Mario Bros. I like how the story seems completely optional, being delivered only through short storybooks on the level select screens. But the writing comes off as a bit pretentious... so this one is more of a wait and see.

Overall: 9
Braid's first hour does an excellent job introducing the player to its world and concepts. This is not your dad's platformer, but Braid really seems to be more like a puzzle game. Collect all the puzzle pieces using any time manipulation method possible, while keeping your sanity. This game definitely is a must play, and priced at only 15 dollars, if the length is decent and the challenges continue to ramp up, this game is a steal.

Braid Hourglass Sand Castle